November 5, 2007
Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
What you have stated a few days ago in an email to me has happened. Your observation was proved to be correct. It shows that you have been doing a good job for the your country and Pakistan. In other words I shall simply say that you have been great to us.
After the declaration of emergency the situation of our areas has taken a dramatic turn for better. According to a report, Tribal militants released 213 Pakistan Army soldiers in South Waziristan on Sunday after the government freed 25 of their men under a prisoners’ swap made possible by a 21-member peace Jirga.
The soldiers had been in the custody of militants loyal to Baitullah Mahsud since August 30. They had surrendered along with 35 other troops to the militants after their military convoy was trapped in the Shawangi Naray area near Wana.
Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad, director-general, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed the reports about the release of the Pakistan Army troops. Talking to newsmen, he said 25 tribesmen held under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) by the local authorities had also been freed and delivered to the Jirga. In reply to a question, he said the militants had already returned the military vehicles and the arms seized from the troops.
Tribal and official sources said the 213 soldiers were handed over by the militants to the Jirga at Tiarza, a village located in the Mahsud tribal territory, and then driven in 13 vehicles to Wana. Once in Wana, the freed soldiers were delivered to the military authorities. The militants gifted a pair of new shalwar-kameez and chappals to each soldier before seeing them at Tiarza.
Among the freed soldiers were six army officers, including a colonel, majors and captains. Colonel Zafar led the military convoy that was seized by the militants.
Militants’ sources said the prisoners’ swap became possible when the government agreed to release 25 of their men. They said the 25 tribesmen were collected from different jails in various cities and brought to Dera Ismail Khan Saturday before being flown to Wana in a helicopter Sunday. They said these men were then handed over to the tribal Jirga which brought them to Tiarza to complete the prisoners’ swap. Contrary to the claims by government officials, almost all of them were booked on terrorism charges and jailed.
These 25 men included Suhail Zeb, a cousin of militants’ commander Baitullah Mahsud. He was arrested by the police from a bungalow on Canal Road in Dera Ismail Khan along with three suicide bombers reportedly wearing explosives-filled jackets. They were later tried in a court and sentenced to 24 years imprisonment. Two of these 25 men were arrested in Karachi and were being held in a jail there.
The 21-member peace Jirga, which comprises 11 Mahsud tribal elders and 10 clerics from the tribe, had been mediating between the militants and the government. Maulana Merajuddin, a former MNA from South Waziristan affiliated with JUI-F and MMA, and his colleague Senator Saleh Shah, were among the more active members of the jirga.
The militants had also demanded an end to all military deployment and operations in the areas inhabited by Mahsud tribe in South Waziristan. They wanted the removal of roadside checkpoints in their area. The government appears to have accepted most of their demands.
Dear Sir, now President Musharraf has been showing seriousness in war on terrorism. One thing is disturbing his team, through which he is running the administration, is consisting of the same corrupt officials. At least the people of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas will never forget your cooperation in their struggle against terrorists.
Thank you very much,
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan